How Christian are Mormons? How Mormon is the Community of Christ?

Mapping boundaries

These and similar questions will be explored at the third annual Restoration Studies and Sunstone Midwest Symposium, to be held April 8–9, 2010, in Independence, Missouri. Our theme is “Identities & Relationships” within the Latter Day Saint movement and Christianity as a whole.

A Call for Papers

Bill Russell, Seth Bryant and the program committee invite you to submit proposals for presentations and panels on this theme or any other topic relating to theology, religious, and cultural studies. Proposals should be no more than 1 page in length and should be accompanied by a brief vita. Please email your proposals to prior to the submissions deadline of Dec. 1, 2009.

About Restoration Studies

The founding volume of Restoration Studies was published in 1980 to honor the sesquicentennial of the Latter Day Saint movement, which was formally organized as the Church of Christ on April 6, 1830. The journal is now published as an annual by the John Whitmer Historical Association and the Community of Christ Seminary Press. The current edition is available on

The first Restoration Studies Symposium was held in April of 2007. Co-sponsored by JWHA, the Community of Christ Seminary, and the Sunstone Educational Foundation as Sunstone Midwest, the symposium reaches across the Latter Day Saint movement to explore theology, cultural and religious studies.

Bookmark How Christian are Mormons? How Mormon is the Community of Christ?


  1. LOVE the map, John. Did you design it? The proportions are all wrong, but it’s a wonderful visual.

    Thanks for the heads up about the conference. I should have gotten involved before, seeing as I live just three hours from Kansas City, but I’d missed the announcements. I’ll try not to miss this one.

  2. aloysiusmiller says:

    Mormonism has some common borders with Catholicism.

  3. Russell (1): Yes — I thought a map would be a good way to visualize the abstractions of identity. I hope you’ll be able to participate in next year’s symposium, the first two both succeeded in getting me thinking about lots of new topics. They don’t disappoint.

    aloysiusmiller (2): That might be a good topic for a paper. I think you’re quite correct. Of course, this is only a detail from the bigger picture. The broader realms of Mormondom and especially Christianity extend far beyond the small territory shown here.

  4. An aunt of mine once gave a homemade board game to our family called “Mormonopoly,” in which the basic structure of Monopoly was couched in properties and minutiae found in SLC and Mormondom.

    Your map reminded me of that game–except here the game would be Risk, and the armies would be missionaries trying to convert various peoples instead of conquering them. (Actually, given Christianity’s often-bloody and brutal history, is there any difference?)

  5. Scott B (4): Maybe at the conference we should make a giant board on the floor and use it to play Mormon-identity Risk using human pieces, the way the sometimes do for chess…

  6. This topic has the potential of some really great papers. Strong work.

  7. While the questions of the Post are fair ones, I don’t think there are correct answers that will comfort all. They are just too subjective. The best we can hope for is the discussions will be insightful, and remains friendly.

  8. I heart John Hamer. That map? Ooooh my…!

  9. Kevin Barney says:

    A very creative call for papers, John! For various reasons it just didn’t work out for me this year, but I’m hoping I can make it in 2010. It’s the perfect distance away for a nice little road trip, and I just love going to Mormon studies conferences.

  10. Fantastic, John.

  11. Natalie B. says:

    I love the map.

  12. I’m glad that this time we got access to the sea. Deseret will be jealous.

  13. #12: Deseret did go to the sea.

  14. Yes proposal for the state reached the sea, as did the territory under the provisional government of Deseret. But it lost it’s ambitious claim when it was truncated into the Utah territory in 1850, hence the jealousy.

  15. Risk: Christendom Edition


  16. As always John, love your visuals.

  17. Of course on my allegorical map, that body of water is the Sea of Doubt. So having a nice port city isn’t necessarily something to get jealous over. (Just kidding.)

  18. #14: #12 still needs some work: Mormondom, (we in your comment), still reached to the sea.

  19. Sea of Doubt? and here I thought it was the sea of love that Phil Phillips sung about.

  20. #18: Hey, stop tying to ruin my joke ;)

  21. For map lovers, may I HIGHLY recommend:
    “The Patrice Press” ‘Covered Wagon Roads to the Old West’.
    Get the ‘rolled copy’ ($10 poster size, in a cardboard tube). Mine is framed on my wall.

  22. One interesting thing is in how many ways The Communities of Christ are what many in the bloggernacle see as the way for the LDS Church to go … and they also look to be fading even more than predicted twenty years ago. Beautiful name, though.

  23. Stephen: what do you mean that “many in the bloggernacle see [the Community of Christ] as the way for the LDS Church to go”? As a historian, I would agree that their approach to history may be more open than ours, but I honestly don’t see “many” of the bloggernacle calling for us to follow their theologically path.

    “and they also look to be fading even more than predicted twenty years ago.”

    Actually, that is not quite accurate. In all honesty, their Church is doing quite well. Hamer dismisses this myth, as well as others, on this post and thread:

  24. That map is brilliant. Stuff like that is why I love this blog.

  25. FireTag says:

    John: One picture IS worth 1000 words. I’ve been staring at this map for several days and trying to figure out where to put my personal “You are here” button.

    I can’t decide whether I occupy that “narrow neck of land” where the CofChrist separates Liberalia from Mormondom, or whether I’m at the triple point where Mormondom, the CofChrist and Protestantland meet and trying to forge a bridge to Evangelica.

    You don’t do maps in hyperspace, do you — so I can be both places at once?

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